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Edmond city management blamed for Uncommon Ground park pullout


EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – Plans for Uncommon Ground Sculpture Park in Edmond were scrapped last week after the developer said the city was “disingenuous and arrogant.”

French Family Charitable Foundation announced earlier this week that they were done and stated that they would not be bringing it back.

| Edmond sculpture park plans scrapped >

“No, we’re done, we’re done,” said Project Leader for Uncommon Grounds plans Randel Shadid. I appreciate all of the amazing community support we’ve gotten throughout this whole process and we’re sorry to anyone we let down. But I think that the management at City Hall has a problem with it because they don’t control it.”

Overall the project would cost a little over $60 million which would come from the FFCF itself. Essentially, Shadid explained that they took nearly the exact same plans that  Tulsa’s Gathering Place had and just replaced them with Edmond locations and names.

Shadid says that the idea that they needed to get out quickly came after a nearly four-hour city council meeting where most of it was discussing the plans for Uncommon Grounds. Despite the city approving it, Shadid said it was too late at that point.

It is my responsibility and staff’s to assess and to present to City Council any initial and long-term financial costs attributed to any project.

Edmond City Manager Scot Rigby

“If the city wants an eastside park which they’ve said they do, then they would have to pay for it anyways,” said Shadid. “So if we don’t do our thing then they’re going to have to buy the land, do the same improvements we asked them to do anyway and they’re going to have to put in all the equipment. And it’s not going to be on the same level that we want it done. Also, this would all be on the taxpayer’s dime.”

Many times Shadid argued that FFCF and himself along with others from Edmond, have lived there most of their lives and that’s why they are wanting to dedicate millions of dollars to this project.

One issue that the city and many have expressed is who would be paying for the constant maintenance. Shadid said that they want to take care of the maintenance.

“Most of the parks within the City of Edmond have a general baseline the city is allowed to spend on maintenance and that’s understandable,” said Shadid. “We don’t want the city maintaining it, we want a higher level of maintenance. We all know, if you’ve lived in Edmond pretty long, with how they’re maintained there’s never enough money.”

The City was working with them on a master plan and the City Council recently approved their site plan and all 8 variances they requested, which included assuming responsibility for improving Coltrane and 2nd Street.

Edmond City Manager Scot Rigby

One of the main projects that were of concern to some city officials was the expansion of East 2nd Street and Coltrane. That was required if the park was to exist. Shadid said that was one of the very few things the city would have had to pay for.

“They are going to be expanding Coltrane to four lanes anyways,” said Shadid. “We’re not asking for much and we didn’t want to spend another $600,000 on that if it was going to happen anyways.”

“Again, I think the management at City Hall has a problem with it because they don’t control it,” said Shadid.

“I am sorry to hear of Mr. French’s decision to not move forward with the Uncommon Ground project.  I know both the city and Mr. French’s team were earnestly engaged in working through the details of this exciting project.  After last Council meeting’s approval of Uncommon Ground’s site plan, I thought we were positively moving in the right direction.  I would hope in the coming days we may have the opportunity to visit with Mr. French and his team to discuss how the project could move forward.”

Mayor Darrell A. Davis

Shadid mentioned that Saturday, he received calls from Guthrie council members telling him they would work past the red tape to get something similar in their area.

“No, we have lived in Edmond most of our lives and we are going to die in Edmond,” said Shadid. “This whole situation just might make us die a little faster. In all seriousness, this project was specifically for Edmond and that community. We wanted to give back.”

“We just thought, should we continue this and just be upset for the next few years,” said Shadid. “Or, do we wanna say it’s over and that it’s done?”

As for the future of Uncommon Ground, the sign claiming that it was headed to the corner still stood. Around the land, there was construction equipment and mounds of dirt.

“it’s just the stress, we don’t need it this time in our lives,” said Shadid. “I’m particularly upset that it’s not happening because five of my really good friends were talked into buying significantly good pieces of art for the park. So, I had to call all of those yesterday and say I’m sorry.”

The city hinted in their statement that they would like to come back to French to talk about the future of the project.

“No, that’s not happening,” said Shadid. “I suppose we could go out there and just put up the art for people to enjoy. But, we’re not going to do that because the art is very valuable.”

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